Author Yukari Kane adapted a chapter from her new book for the Wall Street Journal. I think the excerpt is well written and it’s certainly interesting. My only gripe is that it seems a little one sided and one-dimensional. It dehumanizes Tim Cook, focuses on anecdotes that paint him as a harsh taskmaster, anecdotes that are not supported by personal account but as hearsay.
Apple under Jobs was a roller coaster, but Cook’s operations fief was orderly and disciplined. Cook knew every detail in every step of the operations processes. Weekly operations meetings could last five to six hours as he ground through every single item. His subordinates soon learned to plan for meetings with him as if they were cramming for an exam. Even a small miss of a couple of hundred units was examined closely. “Your numbers,” one planner recalled him saying flatly, “make me want to jump out that window over there.”
Cook had made a particular point of tackling Apple’s monstrous inventory, which he considered fundamentally evil. He called himself the “Attila the Hun of inventory.”
Meetings with Cook could be terrifying. He exuded a Zenlike calm and didn’t waste words. “Talk about your numbers. Put your spreadsheet up,” he’d say as he nursed a Mountain Dew. (Some staffers wondered why he wasn’t bouncing off the walls from the caffeine.) When Cook turned the spotlight on someone, he hammered them with questions until he was satisfied. “Why is that?” “What do you mean?” “I don’t understand. Why are you not making it clear?” He was known to ask the same exact question 10 times in a row.
I’m left with the feeling that these quotes were gathered in a back room in a hushed aside, a la Deep Throat, by people with an agenda. Could be me, but this does not feel balanced. That said, I’ll read the book. Certainly an interesting subject.